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EU Treaties

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 17 January 2012

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Ceisteanna (35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46)

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

47 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the extent to which he and his EU colleagues have engaged in the context of the future development of the European Union with particular reference to political, fiscal, social and economic issues with a view to identification of consensus on the issues and the need to generate confidence in European institutions and to clearly illustrate the ability and commitment of the member states to the principles adopted originally by the founding fathers of the modern Europe; if all member states now recognise that the concept cannot survive without the commitment of all members of the Union and that selective opting out will not only damage the economic prospects but will also undermine the fundamental original vision of Europe; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2319/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

53 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the extent to which agreement has been reached in relation to future amendments to existing European treaties or the introduction of new treaties; if it is intended or expected that approval of any such measures will be done by way of reference to national parliaments, referenda or otherwise; if consideration has been given to the concerns of member states, the constitutions of which require a referendum; if there is general recognition of the need to ensure that fiscal policy in all member states has regard for the well-being of the community at large and that the interests of the most powerful do not obscure those of the smaller countries; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2320/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Billy Kelleher

Ceist:

65 Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if the precedent to embark on the EU intergovernmental agreement weakens and may defy EU pillars; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1927/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Michael Moynihan

Ceist:

66 Deputy Michael Moynihan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he has considered setting up an Oireachtas sub-committee to consider the EU intergovernmental agreement similar to the model used previously when the Lisbon treaty was being debated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1935/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

96 Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his views on whether a constitutional treaty referendum is inevitable in view of the euro crisis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38473/11]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

99 Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he has published or circulated any document regarding reforms of the European Union. [2446/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

100 Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he has prepared any documents for circulation to other Heads of State and Governments setting out Ireland’s position on future reforms of the EU and eurozone. [2447/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

101 Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the procedures he is putting in place to ensure consultation here regarding potential reforms of the EU and eurozone. [2448/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

103 Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he has considered or will consider engaging with Opposition parties on the matter of potential changes to the EU treaties. [2450/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

107 Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his views regarding the proposal from Prime Minister Cameron regarding the abolition of labour laws in any forthcoming treaty change negotiations and if this issue was discussed in recent meetings with Chancellor Merkel. [2454/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

112 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the extent to which he has taken a particular initiative or stance at EU level to support the concept of a rediscovery of the original European ideals and vision having particular regard to the need to create stability and cohesiveness throughout the European Union at this juncture of the modern era; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2595/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

113 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the extent to which all European capitals and parliaments have been visited with a view to disseminating a positive message in respect of this country and its economic recovery and in turn hearing the comments from our European colleagues; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2596/12]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Minister for Foreign)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 47, 53, 65, 66, 96, 99 to 101, inclusive, 103, 107, 112 and 113 together.

Since the current economic difficulties in Europe arose, European leaders have been seized of the need to find a lasting resolution that allows us to put the crisis behind us and to focus on generating growth and jobs as a means of underpinning recovery.

Significant steps have been taken in this regard, including in strengthening budgetary discipline and in constructing stabilisation facilities and firewalls. Important progress on these elements, both of which are of importance to Ireland, was made at the meeting of the European Council last month.

In particular, leaders agreed to further strengthen economic policy co-ordination within the euro area, by way of an intergovernmental agreement, to construct a new "fiscal compact".

Negotiations are ongoing on a draft Treaty to give legal effect to this agreement.

A first draft text was circulated before Christmas and it is hoped that significant progress towards agreement will have been made before an informal meeting of the European Council scheduled for 30 January. Once agreement is reached, the text will then be prepared for signature and subsequent ratification by each of the participants according to their respective constitutional requirements.

The Government has been clear that we would have wished to proceed at the level of all 27 EU Member States. That would have facilitated inclusion of the new arrangements within the EU Treaties. Unfortunately it was not possible on this occasion.

However, all Member States are represented at the ongoing negotiations, with the UK attending as observers. This is most welcome and work is being undertaken in a spirit of co-operation and compromise, while respecting vital national interests, as has been the guiding approach to previous European negotiations.

The Government has been working intensively, at the negotiating table, in Brussels and in capitals, to make sure that our key points are understood and addressed appropriately. To that end we have offered our views both orally and in writing, including on the detailed elements of the text. Senior Irish officials have been very active in meeting their counterparts, and we have sought to secure the support of all potential allies on issues of importance to us. We will continue to do this as the process evolves.

Only when a final text is available will it be possible to reach a view on what will be required by way of ratification in Ireland. The test will be whether the proposed Treaty is compatible with the Constitution. As the Government has confirmed previously, the Attorney General will study the legal implications carefully, and will advise on what steps will be necessary to enable Ireland to ratify. Until then it is simply not possible to be definitive. As the Government has made clear many times, if a referendum is required, one will be held.

I should add in taking forward the work mandated in December, there has been no discussion of labour laws.

The House can be assured that whatever path towards ratification is required, it will be fully involved in the process.

The Government is firmly committed to continuing to engage actively with the House on matters related to our membership of the European Union. The Taoiseach met, in the immediate aftermath of the December European Council, with Opposition leaders and provided them with a briefing on developments at that meeting.

The Taoiseach and I also both addressed the Dáil on 14 December on the outcome of the Council meeting, what that would mean for Ireland and setting out our approach during the negotiation of the draft international agreement. We responded to a series of queries and points raised by Members of this House. The Government will continue the practice, initiated for the first time by this Government, of also having statements in this House ahead of each European Council meeting, as well as following such meetings, as was the practice previously.

I note also that it continues to be the practice that I or the Minister of State for European Affairs meets with the Joint Oireachtas Committee on European Union Affairs ahead of each meeting of the General Affairs Council (GAC). These exchanges have proven to be a useful forum for a wide-ranging exchange of views on issues arising on the GAC and European Council agenda. I trust that this will continue to be the case. In addition, I will meet with the Joint Oireachtas Committee on European Union Affairs on Friday of this week to brief the Committee on developments concerning the negotiations on the draft international agreement.

Ireland's commitment to delivering on the terms of its EU-IMF Programme is well understood and accepted. In December, European leaders again welcomed the progress we have made in that regard. Such statements are helpful in rebuilding the international reputation of this country, in generating confidence in our ability to recover, and in creating a positive impression in the minds of international investors.

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